Heroes celebrate 40 years | SteamboatToday.com

Heroes celebrate 40 years

Olympians Kidd and Heuga remember 1964 Games

Susan Cunningham

Billy Kidd and Jimmie Heuga’s eyes watched the black and white films of three slim men racing down icy slopes on long skis. Each ski run took just more than one minute.

As they watched, Heuga wore a humored grin on his face, and Kidd looked thoughtful. Both didn’t take their eyes from the screen.

“No American man has ever won an Olympic medal in skiing before,” the 1964 announcer’s voice sung. “And now we’ve got two of them.”

The two Olympians on film were Kidd and Heuga, who, on Sunday, celebrated the 40th anniversary of the day Kidd won a silver medal and Heuga a bronze at the Innsbruck Winter Games. The two men watched the films of themselves and skiing legend Buddy Werner during a public celebration at the Steamboat Grand on Sunday afternoon.

Looking back, they remembered how skiing then meant leather boots, long skis and the only release factor being when the screws pulled out of the skis.

They also said they could now see how those minute-long runs at the Winter Games changed their lives immensely.

“I think Jimmie and I didn’t realize at the time how we would go into the history books,” Kidd told the dozens of people who gathered to meet the Olympians.

“We were in disbelief when we came down,” Heuga remembered.

“Billy and I are punching each other on the shoulders because we can’t believe it really happened,” he said about standing on the Olympic podium.

Earlier on Sunday, Kidd, Heuga and several other Olympic coaches and teammates skied the mountain with anyone else who wanted more than just a signature from the former Olympians.

Some skiers estimated that between 150 and 200 people joined Kidd and Heuga for the first run.

Joe Dee, who produced the film “I Never Look Back: The Buddy Werner Story,” called skiing with Kidd and Heuga “incredible.”

“It was like ‘Field of Dreams,'” Dee said about when Kidd and Heuga started down the first slope. “They all came out of the snow.”

Ski instructor Bruce Roemmich agreed.

“It was huge,” Roemmich said. “It was like tree-line to tree-line” was filled with skiers.

The ride was even more special for Roemmich because Huega, who uses a wheelchair because of multiple sclerosis, came down on a bi-ski. Roemmich’s 24-year-old daughter also skis in a wheelchair.

“It really makes people aware of physical challenges and what people can do with physical challenges,” Roemmich said.

Kidd and Heuga skied on Buddy’s Run in honor of their teammate Buddy Werner, a skiing legend who died in an avalanche after the 1964 games.

The powder was a treat, Kidd said.

“We had such a delightful time skiing in the powder,” Kidd said. “The powder was up in our faces.”

Heuga said that it was tough for him to breathe sometimes because of the powder, and Kidd told him to get a snorkel.

— To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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